The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was another book highly recommended by a friend (as in, "what ever you do, Get.This.ARC. at ALA"). And was she ever right! Usually I'm not the biggest fan of books with tons of description (my brain doesn't quite work that way, and I tend to get lost) but here it really worked.
This is two stories intertwined. The first is a Rebecca-esque tale of a younger (unnamed) woman with little family who meets an older man and falls in love. Of course there's no time spent exploring each other's pasts, it's full-on heady romance. They travel, and buy a rather run-down house (actually, a hamlet) in Provence. There, eerie things start to happen and Dom's reluctance to talk about his past (which is clearly torturing him) begins to prey on our heroine.
The second story is told by Benedicte Lincel, the only remaining member of the Lincel family (who'd owned the house for centuries before our lovers purchase it). Again, eerie things are happening: she's being haunted by the ghost, and memories, of her rather deranged brother Pierre and her blind sister Marthe. Marthe, though blind, becomes a master perfumiere - an amazing "nose" - and is is through her tutelage that Benedicte becomes aware of the scents and colors of their surroundings.
Of course the two narratives tie in (no spoilers on how or why) in a way that harkens back to the best in Gothic romance. This is more than Rebecca (or Jane Eyre), this is truly different, and not just because the landscape and the aromas play such an indelible part.
ARC provided by publisher.